People of Christchurch

Christchurch | Ōtautahi has a lot of local people who have made a difference to Christchurch, and sometimes the whole world. Here are some sources you could look at if you'd like to find out about individual people or groups of people from Christchurch.

Photo of the Kate Sheppard National Memorial. It shows the faces of Meri Te Tai Mangakahia, Amey Daldy, and Kate Sheppard.

Image: Close up of the Kate Sheppard National Memorial by Library Staff, Christchurch City Libraries on

Which people can I learn about?

Here are some people related to Christchurch you could find out about:

Hone Tikao (1808?-1852)

Hone Tikao (1808?-1852)
Signatory to the Treaty of Waitangi.

Find out about Hone Tikao
Kate Sheppard (1847-1934)

Kate Sheppard (1847-1934)
Women's rights campaigner.

Find out about Kate Sheppard
Elizabeth McCombs (1873-1935)

Elizabeth McCombs (1873-1935)
First woman to become a Member of Parliament in Aotearoa.

Find out about Elizabeth McCombs
Sibylla Emily Maude (1862-1935)

Sibylla Emily Maude (1862-1935)
Nurse Maude. Started the District Nursing Scheme.

Find out about Sibylla Emily Maude
Charles Upham (1908-1994)

Charles Upham (1908-1994)
World War Two soldier who won the Victoria Cross twice.

Find out about Charles Upham
Tā Tipene O’Regan (1939-)

Tā Tipene O’Regan (1939-)
Ngāi Tahu leader and chief negotiator of Te Kerēme (the Ngāi Tahu Claim).

Find out about Tā Tipene O’Regan

Tips: These are just some examples of people you could research. You may have someone different you're interested in finding out about. Just use their name as your search terms in the resources below.

Local iwi:

Note: Iwi are listed in alphabetical order. This list was put together to the best of our knowledge. If there are any other iwi to be included, please let us know.

Christchurch resources

Here are some Christchurch sources you could look at if you'd like to find out about the histories of individual people or groups of people from Christchurch.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu

This is the official website of Ngāi Tahu, and has lots of information covering topics like culture and environment across Ngāi Tahu's rohe, which covers most of the South Island.

  • Explore the tabs along the top of the page to find your way around.

  • Choose Governance to read about the current Ngāi Tahu leaders.

  • Select Ngāi Tahu and History to read Ngāi Tahu people's stories including their history.

  • Use the search bar to enter names of people.

  • Read the official Ngāi Tahu magazine Te Karaka online which covers local issues and events.

Tips: Ngāi Tahu is often called Kāi Tahu by local Christchurch iwi.

Tips: Some websites have .iwi in their url. This tells you that the website belongs to an iwi and likely has Māori knowledge (mātauranga Māori).


This is the official website of the Ngāi Tahu Archive. Here you can find all sorts of resources, including primary sources.

  • You can use the tabs along the top of the page to find things like Biographies, Maps, Ngā Taonga Kōrero (audio and videos) and Photographs.

  • Or, you can use the search feature to enter keywords.

  • Remember to use the Search Filters to select Digital Results Only.

Christchurch City Libraries

The Christchurch library's website has information about well known historical people in Christchurch. To use this website, we recommend starting with the tabs along the top.

For information about local people:

  • Go to the Explore tab.

  • Look under Local History.

  • Choose People to browse through biographies of local people.

  • You can also use the search bar to enter a name and search the library website (make sure you change catalogue to website in the drop down menu before you search).

Ti Kōuka Whenua

Ti Kōuka Whenua records significant people, places and events of Waitaha (Canterbury) and Horomaka (Banks Peninsula). This website is run by Christchurch City Libraries and has information about the Māori history of Christchurch.

To find information about people:

  • Go to the menu.

  • Choose Index of Sites.

  • From here, explore Tangata Rongonui for historical people.

  • Also explore Tribes for information on Ngāti Mamoe, Ngāi Tahu and more.

The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]

This online cyclopedia has biographies of important people in early Canterbury from 1850 to 1903.

  • From the contents page, choose Canterbury Provincial District.

  • Open Christchurch City and Suburbs.

  • Choose from the list to find information on Ex Mayors, and people who worked in different professions trades and jobs.

Polish Association in Christchurch

The Polish Association in Christchurch promotes Polish culture and language and offers friendship and events for Polish people living in Christchurch.

MacDonald Dictionary of Canterbury biographies

George MacDonald collected biographies of early settlers in Canterbury for the Canterbury Museum. These biographies are handwritten on cards so can be tricky to read.

  • You can read these biographies online on the Canterbury Museum website.

  • To search for people in the MacDonald Dictionary enter the name you are looking for into the search bar, then choose Person instead of Object.

Canterbury Museum Collections Online

The Canterbury Museum has over 150 000 items available online including pictures and objects.

  • Select the Search button or look down the page for the search box.

  • Enter in the name of a person or group of people.

  • Select an item to get more details.

Tips: Historical sources like photographs and objects can be useful for finding different perspectives on a topic. Keep in mind that they may not fairly show a wide range of views or experiences.

Christchurch City Libraries Church Registers

The Church Registers are handwritten cards filed in drawers in alphabetical order by surname. They have information about thousands of people who were baptised, married, or buried in local churches in Christchurch and Canterbury from the 1840s to the early 1900s.

  • You can look at the registers on Tuakiri | Identity Level 2, at Tūranga, 60 Cathedral Square, Christchurch.

Christchurch City Council Cemeteries Database

The Cemeteries database has information about many of the people who have been buried in cemeteries in Christchurch. It can tell you information like when someone died, where they are buried, how long they lived in New Zealand, and what their job was.

To use the Cemeteries Database:

Tips: The database is updated monthly by the Cemeteries Administrator from the Christchurch City Council.

General New Zealand resources

These websites have information about the histories of people in New Zealand Aotearoa, including Christchurch.

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography (DNZB)

This website is part of Te Ara. It has over 3,000 biographies of New Zealanders who have made their mark on this country. It does not include people who are alive. This site includes around 500 biographies that are in te reo Māori.

  • Use the names of the people as search words to read about their lives and what they achieved, or

  • you can do an Advanced Biographies Search which allows you to narrow down your search by region.

Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara is an excellent starting point for all questions about New Zealand Aotearoa, including Christchurch. If we look down to the bottom of the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

  • Search for the name of a person or group of people.

  • Or go to the section on Māori New Zealanders then select Iwi.

  • Choose an iwi to find out information about them.

Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Usually it’s better to leave out small words like ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘of’ and just choose the main ones, eg Christchurch. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.


NZHistory is a great website for information about people in New Zealand Aotearoa. If we go all the way down the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

  • There are lots of different ways to use this website to find information, depending on what kind of history you are interested in. Information is split up into different areas like People, Places and Events.

  • If you look down the page, you will find a link to Biographies.

  • These are short life stories of famous people in the past and in the present. Enter 'Christchurch' into the search bar to find Christchurch people.

  • You can also use the search bar at the top of the page to enter the names of people.

Papers Past - Newspapers

The Papers Past website has a collection of early New Zealand newspapers that have been digitised. To use this website to find information about Christchurch people, places and events you can:

  • Browse newspapers by going to the tab By Region then selecting All regions and choosing Canterbury to find a list of Canterbury newspapers.

  • Enter your keywords into the search bar and filter by date and title.

  • Limit your search to Ngā Tānga Reo Māori only to find titles printed in te reo Māori.

Tips: We like sites like this because they’re reliable. You can tell because of their web address – they have .govt meaning they are from government organisations. They’re also New Zealand sites, so relevant for us.

Papers Past - Magazines and Journals

Papers Past also has magazines. To find information about Christchurch people, places and events you can search all magazines or search individual titles like Te Ao Hou.

  • Open the search bar at the top left and enter your keywords.

  • Try 'Christchurch' or 'Otautahi' to find articles that mention Christchurch.

  • Or you can enter search words like the name of a person, place, or event.

  • Please note, this website does not recognise macrons.

Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Usually it’s better to leave out small words like ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘of’ and just choose the main ones. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.


DigitalNZ is a search site that focuses on New Zealand history and brings together results from lots of different websites. It’s an easy way of searching online resources from New Zealand libraries, museums, universities and government sites all at once, and has lots of primary sources.

  • Enter your keywords into the search bar.

  • You can choose images, videos, newspapers, articles, research papers and more.

Tips: Websites that have .org in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on this website. That can tell you what the organisation’s mission and values are.

Online Cenotaph

The Online Cenotaph belongs to the Auckland War Memorial Museum. It contains biographical details of New Zealand men and women who served in wars overseas.

  • If you know the name of a Christchurch person who served overseas, you can enter that in the search bar and then select their war or conflict from the drop down menu.

  • Use Browse from the menu, choose Place then enter Place of birth eg 'Christchurch' to find local names.

  • Custom search allows you to search by place, keyword, Iwi / Hapū / Waka / Rohe and more.

Tips: Researchers, veterans and families can add information and photos to this website.


For any Māori topic you are researching, visit Tūranga, the central library in Christchurch, and look at Waruwarutū on Tuakiri, Level 2. This is where you will find the Ngā Pounamu Māori collection. There is a special reference collection here called Ngā rākau teitei e iwa, the Ngāi Tahu collection, which holds books by and about Ngāi Tahu.

As well as these resources, check out your school or local public library for books. Here are some titles we have found:

SCIS no: 5496175

More about Christchurch

Places of Christchurch

Christchurch | Ōtautahi is the largest city in the South Island. It covers the area from the Waimakariri River to Banks Peninsula, and shares a border with Selwyn district to the west and Waimakariri district to the north.

Learn about places of Christchurch

Events of Christchurch

Through our histories, lots of things have happened that have had an impact on Christchurch | Ōtautahi. The following resources explore these events and can offer some different perspectives.

Learn about events of Christchurch